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Both sides of HB2 square off in Raleigh rallies

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Supporters and opponents gather to voice their positions on HB2.

The debate over House Bill 2 - the law critics say discriminates against LGBT people - continues to heat up as supporters and opponents gathered at dueling demonstrations in downtown Raleigh Monday.

There were some tense moments during the dueling rallies. Opponents and supporters were screaming at each other at one point. There were no arrests.

About 700 people swarmed the lawn outside of the Capitol to offer their support of the new law. Some of the folks traveled from different parts of the state. Other took off work. The crowd was in force to support House Bill 2, which bans local governments from establishing anti-discrimination rules that exceed state standards.

People were chanting "Thank You" to Gov. Pat McCrory for signing HB2 into law.

Supporters said the law upholds North Carolina values.

"We were first in flight. We are still first in freedom," said HB2 supporter Donica Hudson.

Supporters of HB2 say children are safer and the public is protected because the law requires people to use the bathroom of their biological gender.

"The bill that the legislature passed and the governor signed was the right thing to do," said the Rev. Mark Creech, an HB2 supporter.

But yards away from the celebration rally, there was protest. Opponents of the law flooded a sidewalk near the Capitol and were demanding justice for the LGBT community.

"It annoys me to absolutely no end that McCrory thought it was a good idea," said HB2 opponent Preston Carlo.

Opponents feel the law puts transgender people at risk and is clearly discriminatory.

"(These clergy) preach hatred and fear," said HB2 opponent Elena Cebrio.

Opponents are calling for a repeal and one lawsuit has been filed.

"This bill is pretty much stick it to the gays and says 'Let's go ahead and throw basically a nuclear bomb on their rights,' " Carlo said.

"Hate bill 2 targets and discriminates against the LGBTQ community and creates a hostile atmosphere," said the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP. "Hate bill 2 is the poisonous brew of racism, classism, and homophobia used in southern politics to divide people and allow a ruling elite to govern."

The state law was passed after Charlotte adopted a non-discrimination ordinance allowing transgender people to use public restrooms in line with their gender identification.

The North Carolina law overrules LGBT anti-discrimination measures passed by local governments. It also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from the state's anti-discrimination policy and prevents people from filing employment discrimination lawsuits in state courts.

Conservatives have championed a provision that requires transgender people to use public restrooms that match the sex on their birth certificate, saying the law protects women and children from men who would use anti-discrimination measures as a pretense to enter the wrong restroom.

Supporters are gearing up for another rally. It's planned for Monday, April 25 on the Halifax Mall. A time for the event had not yet been set.

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